I planted raspberries two summers ago and have been immensely proud of their success. Granted, raspberries are pretty hearty and I haven’t had to do much but prune and fertilize. However, the neighborhood birds have noticed the free buffet in my yard. In previous years, I have covered them with bird netting, but that made it hard for me to harvest the berries. After some research, I decided that I needed a garden owl to scare them away. I could have bought one of those plastic owls . . . but I’ll be honest . . . they scare me too. So, I decided to do a DIY Garden Owl to scare off the birds. During my Google research, I found that birds are very visual animals and that reflective surfaces also scare them away. Apparently, I could just hang CDs throughout my garden and that would do the trick. However, my heart was set on an owl guardian to watch over my berries and there was no turning back. So, if you’re also in need of a cute DIY Garden Owl, read on!
- ¾ inch plywood (mine was at least 18”x12”)
- Rust-o-leum Vintage Gold spraypaint
- Minwax pre-stain, Minwax stain, and Minwax polycrylic finish
- Paint brushes or paint sponge brushes
- Four old CDs
- Contact Paper (or other coated paper for creating a stencil)
- X-acto Knife and or a utility knife
- Sandpaper (80, 150, 220)
- Two large rubber bands or fishing line
Creating the pattern
I created a cardboard pattern of one side of the owl and then flipped it over to create an identical second half. I traced a bowl to create the circle in the center where the CD will go.
Trace the pattern onto the wood. I actually wanted my owl to have a slightly bigger butt then it would have if I exactly mirrored the pattern. So, I angled the pattern out a little to make the bottom half larger.
Cutting the wood
I cut the hole in the center before I cut out the silhouette. I started by drilling a hole slightly larger than my jigsaw blade on the inside of the circle. Then I put the jigsaw blade in and began cutting.
Next, I cut out the owl silhouette. Because the plywood was ¾ inch and the outline had some sharp turns, I cut away the outside pieces rather than trying to cut it out all at once. Some of the turns were so tight that it may have snapped my blade. This was slower, but I think cutting away the outside in small sections was the safer method.
I then drilled in the holes that I would use to hang the CD. I cut lines at an angle to the holes to loop rubber bands through. Alternatively, you could just drill the holes and use fishing line or wire to suspend your CD.
Finishing touches on DIY Garden Owl
After you cut out your owl you will need to sand it beginning with an 80 grit sandpaper, followed by a 150 then 220 grit. (If you are new to sandpaper, the smaller the number the coarser the grit. Start with the lowest number and then work your way to the bigger number. For a wood project, 220 is usually considered a good finishing grit).
You don’t have to make any features on your owl, but it is much cuter that way. You could just paint or seal it and call it a day. However, I wanted mine to also be my garden buddy, so it needed a face.
Trace your owl onto contact paper. Then use different sized glasses to trace circles for the eyes. I found that the bottom of a shot glass was perfect for the pupil and then a juice glass for the inside of the iris and a larger drinking glass for the outside. I then made a diamond shape for the beak and free-handed the wings and eyebrows.
So, I had not intended to do a spraypaint over the stain, but my first attempt at staining the face went wrong and so I just fully stained one side. I actually like both looks, and am pleased by the accident.
Adding the face:
How to stain the features on.
I used minwax pre-stain on both sides of my owl before beginning. If you are staining the features, it is easiest to stain in sections. I divided my owl into thirds. Cut out the tail part of the contact paper with your Xacto knife. Then carefully laid it on the wood cutout. Then using an old rag and very little stain I rubbed it on the tail and then wiped with a clean rag. My stain was dark enough that I didn’t really use much wait time. The key to not ending up with bleeding of the stain under your stencil is to not oversaturate your stain rag. I then pulled off the contact paper and moved onto the other sections.
How to paint the features on:
Because I had messed up on my first attempt at staining the features, I stained one full side in a dark walnut stain. After it had fully dried (24 hrs), I placed the full stencil on the cutout.
I then used painters tape to cover all of the edges and inside of the center hole. I taped it really well and just before I spray painted it, I made sure that there was a good connection with the contact paper around the face. This part gave me the most trouble as far as sticking. A glue dot or some double-sided tape probably would help.
After it was all taped up, I did two coats of the gold spray paint. I made sure that both coats were very light to minimize any paint running under the stencil. Before the paint dried too much, I carefully removed the stencil and the painters tape.
Sealing your DIY garden Owl:
So, this step is key even if you decide not to put any facial features on your owl. This owl is going to live in my garden and face all the sun and rain that the mid-Atlantic has to throw at it. I gave mine 3-4 layers of a clear-gloss polycrylic seal. I used a 220 grit sandpaper to lightly sand between each layer and then wiped off all the dust before adding another layer.
Constructing the CD spinner:
You could just hang a CD in the center and I think that would work. However, I wanted to create sort of a paddlewheel effect. Because my CDs had a sticker on one side and I didn’t want to peel it off, I started by gluing to CDs together with the reflective sides out. Then I took a third CD and carefully scored down the center on the side with the sticker (I didn’t go all the way through). I then folded it back on itself so that the reflective sides were out and I superglued them together. I did the exact same thing to a fourth CD.
Next, I glued the two folded CDs to my center CD to create sort of a paddle wheel shape. I did this one at a time and fully allowed the first to dry before adding the second. I had to prop it up on paint cans to add the second one.
Once the CDs have dried, use fishing line or rubber bands to attach them into the center of your owl. Then you need to find a spot to hang your owl creation.
Putting up your DIY garden owl
It is best to hang your owl high in a place that an actual owl might be. Garden scarecrows work best if they don’t stay in the same place. I have two or three places that I plan to rotate my owl through. While this can be a bit of a pain, I’ll just do it when I’m watering my garden. Vegetable gardens take a lot of work anyway (at least mine does). I’m pretty sure that this will just be one point in a many-pronged strategy as I combat the vermin that are after my produce.